Cable TV Hearings

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 10, 2000. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Even before the "I love you" virus struck last

week, U.S. 1 was embroiled in its own E-mail odyssey. We had chosen

that fateful time to install an E-mail server, a central computer

that would not only send and receive E-mail but also drop those lovely

little messages directly on the recipient’s desk and allow everyone

to send mail and reach the Internet, as well — all from the comfort

of their individual workstation.

All of this comes out of the box touted by the manufacturer and developer

as "plug and play." In reality, of course, it is plug and

prayer — and then call in your network consultant to try to make

sense out of the chaos. So last week the bad news for us was that

chaos. The good news was that same chaos, which meant that at the

very moment the "I love you" virus struck here, our consultant

was already on the premises.

The chaos made us consider a few harsh realities concerning E-mail.

First is that our policy of not opening attachments from unknown correspondents

seems more practical than ever. We instituted the policy not to protect

us from viruses but rather to save ourselves from the frustration

of trying to open files transmitted in formats that defy our existing

system.

Next comes the observation that your precious E-mail — once arriving

at our desktop (and assuming that we can read it) — essentially

gets one reading and one reading only by the person who opens it.

A fax, in contrast, gets read by the person who collects it and then

by the person to whom it is directed. The fax, moreover, can sometimes

be targeted for several people to read, relevant passages are highlighted,

and so on. Call us lazy, but the fact is that our editors seldom print

out E-mail messages and then give them the same "hard copy"

treatment that they give the old fashioned fax or snail mail.

Finally we have to dispel a myth about E-mail: Even though our editorial

deadlines are firmly stated in each issue, we now have a growing number

of people who think that E-mail can somehow be instantly transformed

into the (usually) tight and bright writing that fills these pages.

That it cannot probably frustrates us more than you.

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Cable TV Hearings

THE SECOND SET of hearings on re-franchising RCN will be held at the

Princeton Township offices on Valley Road on Tuesday, May 16, at 8

p.m. Why bother to come? At least two reasons stand out. At the Borough

meeting RCN representatives were apparently stunned at the large hostile

turnout. As a result the Joint TV-Cable Committee is already finding

that their requests for help, so long ignored, are now being responded

to promptly by RCN personnel.

But there are even better reasons. We are surrounded by Comcast, which

offers superior service at lower prices. Comcast has indicated that

if invited it will make a presentation to also offer its service in

Princeton. Another good turnout will encourage the Joint Committee

to demand more in its RCN negotiations.

And in addition to asking RCN about its high prices and shortcomings,

let’s also ask them why Comcast can supply its subscribers with two-way

cable modems and RCN cannot.

Bob Levine


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